What to do and see in Varkala, the beach paradise of India
Your first thoughts about India are probably not paradise beaches, surfing and drinking (discreetly ) with friends… but Varkala is exactly those things! Varkala is our favourite place in India, you can fill your days with sightseeing or enjoy lounging on the beautiful beach. Read on to find out exactly how you can spend your days in this Indian paradise!
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Also read: Guide to 24 Hours in Kochi: Exploring Kochi through Food
Where to Stay
Lost Hostel – 100% the best hostel we stayed in during our travels! We met the best people here which definitely made the trip what it was. Goodwin (the manager) was a fabulous host and made sure everyone was always having a great time. Krishna cooks a great and really cheap breakfast & dinner. Occasionally there’re family dinner nights, we had 2 during our stay, which are also super cheap and a great way to meet people (the dinner usually turns into a bit of a party). This is definitely the place to stay for an amazing, sociable Varkala trip! You really will get lost here, we extended several times! We stayed in a private room costing Rs.1000 (£10.70)/ night, they were super clean, comfortable and roomy. Click here to book your stay.
Varkala Helipad Road, Varkala, Kerala 695141, India
About 12 of us hired mopeds from the travel agents down the road from Lost Hostel for about Rs.500 (~£5) for 24 hours and rode about an hour to Munroe Island. You’ll pass beautiful beaches, small villages and so much beautiful greenery! The ferry across to the island cost Rs.10 per bike and you can grab some lunch on the island too before the backwaters tour. The tour costs Rs. 1,000 (£11) per canoe, so the more people you can get to go the cheaper it will work out for you (we think it’s 8 people per boat). The whole trip is about an hour and you stop off for 15mins for snacks and chai. The backwaters are so beautiful, and the tour makes for an incredible South Indian experience!
TIP: Check the weather before you go, it started raining during our tour and it was pretty miserable being stuck in the boat!
We didn’t spend much time temple hopping in Varkala, but if you need your cultural fix the Janardanaswamy Temple is a really interesting, beautiful place to visit. There was a Pradakshina/ Parikarma being performed when we arrived. This involves walking around sacred objects, in this case the temple, in a clockwise movement and is a common form of prayer in Hinduism. There’s also (a little creepy to us) a fertility tree, where relatives hang dolls for newly wedded couples to encourage pregnancy.
NOTE: There’s an elephant here, which we found really sad as it’s quiet a small complex. Keep this in mind if this could be a trigger for you.
Beaches & Surfing
By far our favourite pastime was lounging on the beach and trying our hand at surfing for the first time. There’s a couple of nice beaches around but Varkala Beach is by far the best for sunbathing and surfing, and only a stone’s throw away from Lost Hostel! You can hire a board from lots of the shops and restaurants on the cliff top. We paid Rs.600/ board for 6 hours (£6.70). Deals differ from place to place so just walk along the cliff top and find the best deal. This was our first time surfing and we coped fine without an instructor/ lessons. We just wanted to give it a go and have some fun but lessons/ instructors are available everywhere.
TIP: Mainly for ladies – if you’re like us and know nothing about surfing, wear a swimming costume!! Jordan wore a bikini and number 1, the board chafes your belly, and 2 bikini bottoms WILL fall down!! There’s a cheap speedo shop in town if you don’t have a cozzie – the cliff top shops only sell Indian style swimmers.
Whatever you do here, you’re going to have an amazing time. Just relaxing on the beach was enough for us, but there’s lots to do should you want some adventure! Lost Hostel made our trip so great as there was so many like minded people that were staying there, which is sure to make your trip so much fun! After Varkala we ventured back to the north to Varanasi. Check out our guide on how to travel the length of India, or click here to read what to expect/ prepare yourself for when visiting this very different, and life changing place!